Benetton’s Most Controversial Ad Campaigns

"Oliviero Toscani was the man behind some of the most controversial advertising campaigns in history. The Italian photographer, who served as creative director for Benetton between the years of 1982 - 2000, not only transformed the Italian clothier into a household name, he changed the face of advertising," writes Christopher at Fashionist. "Toscani’s work for Benetton was sometimes poignant, usually controversial and always memorable. Most of Benetton’s advertisements that were released during the Toscani years shocked the world, but many created a dialogue and etched Benetton’s logo into our minds. Not bad considering no Benetton garment ever made a significant appearance in any of Toscani’s ad campaigns."

Here’s a look back at Benetton’s most controversial advertising campaigns:
Angel And Devil (September 1991)
In the fall of 1991, Benetton once again tried to provoke conversation on the stereotypes of good and evil with an advertisement featuring an angel and the devil. Officially, the company said they were aiming to “feature images from the real world which have some social and universal relevance, in order to break through the barrier of indifference which often surrounds these issues”. What the campaign actually did was create unprecedented outrage and controversy.

Priest And Nun (September 1991)
A priest kissing a nun was one of many advertisements that depicted religious and sexual conflict for Benetton. The fall 1991 ad campaign of a not-so-platonic kiss between a priest and a nun clad in an old-fashioned habit immediately sparked controversy across the world. Benetton stated that the ad was merely “the affirmation of pure human sentiment".

Hearts (March 1996)
In the spring of 1996, Benetton released an advertisement which featured an image of three almost identical “human” hearts with the words 'white', 'black', and 'yellow' as captions. Protesters cried that the photo, which was taken by Oliviero Toscani, was one of Benetton's most racist. In actuality, the hearts were pig hearts.

Continue reading: 12 of Benetton’s most controversial advertising campaigns

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